Did rust contribute to the Magic’s poor play?

The Magic lost last night, 90-80, at home to the Celtics, who were in the second night of a back-to-back. Doug Collins mentioned that the Magic may have been “rusty” because their last game was on Saturday.

Far be it for me to disagree with Doug Collins, but I’m going to disagree with Doug Collins. While the Magic may have been out of the normal rhythm of the NBA season, they did get four days of rest and recovery, which is never a bad thing. The Celtics had played the night before, and historically speaking, that’s more difficult to do than play after a long break. (At least Vegas thinks so.)

The Magic lost last night because the Celtics are just a better defensive team right now. They made things difficult on Orlando’s three-point shooters (32%) and held the Magic to 38% from the field on the night. For the most part, they were successful in keeping Dwight Howard off the block when he caught the ball, which allowed Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis to play him one-on-one instead of forcing the Celtics to double-team. Howard was limited to 11 points, and since there were few double-teams, the Magic were forced to take a number of contested three-pointers, resulting in the lower accuracy from behind the arc. Orlando was also incapable of finishing at the rim much of the night, which only compounded the problem.

In the fourth quarter, Jameer Nelson got hot and Orlando tried to make a run, but Davis and Kevin Garnett hit jumper after jumper to keep the Magic at bay. The Celtics look like they’re rolling again, but I wouldn’t say that the Magic are out of their league. This was just one game.

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